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The Ultimate Used Car Inspection Guide

Inspect a used vehicle like a Pro! Everything you need to know - All in one place.

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Page 1 – Introduction (You are here)
Page 2 – At First Glance
Page 3 – Exterior: Inspecting the Paintwork
Page 4 – Exterior: Inspecting the Bodywork
Page 5 – Exterior: Inspecting the Tyres
Page 6 – Under the Bonnet: The Engine Compartment – Part 1
Page 7 – Under the Bonnet: The Engine Compartment – Part 2
Page 8 – Inspecting the Interior – Part 1
Page 9 – Inspecting the Interior – Part 2
Page 10 – Check Out the Paperwork


Buying a used car can be quite a complicated affair, and for many people who doesn’t do it often, it can also be an unpleasant one. If you do your homework properly though, there are a lot of advantages in buying a used car: you can save a lot of money on the first year depreciation alone.
The aim of this guide is to eliminate some of the uncertainties of used car inspections and to make it a less intimidating experience. Even though the process might not be that easy, inspecting a used car shouldn’t be seen of as a war between buyer and seller, it’s only a business negotiation — you have no obligation to enter into any agreement.
By studying the following information carefully, you might well look like a very experienced car buyer and the seller might be less inclined to try and take you for a ride! (Excuse the pun)


Adopt a meticulous mind set when inspecting a used car. To help you discern if the vehicle is worthy of buying during the inspection, wear clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and bring the following items with you for inspecting the vehicle:


• A notebook and pen for taking notes and recording the VIN, odometer and asking price
• Paper towels for checking fluid levels.
• A flashlight for looking under the car for leaks and corrosion
• A flat refrigerator magnet for detecting concealed body work
• Inspection checklist (Download here – PDF format)


If you have an appointment for a car viewing, try and get to your appointment a little earlier as arranged. You don’t necessarily need to inform the seller that you arrived early – just park or hang around so that you have an eye on the used car you might be buying.
Devious sellers might want to top up engine or transmission fluids just before showing a car to prevent possible fresh leaks in the driveway or do some other duplicitous activities like moving a license plate from one car to another.
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